What the political analysts missed.

Polling chartYesterday England went to the polls in local elections for it’s Metropolitan and District Councils. This did not include the counties of England often referred to as ‘The Shires’ as they are on a different electoral timetable.

Prior to the elections, one party in particular was boasting of the large landslide wins it expected to make and most of the media got caught up in a lot of this speculative hype. However irrelevant of what popular media might think, the electorate has its own unique  way of of determining what they want, not what the political parties of media think they should have.

Well the aspired to political landslide eventually turned out to no more than a few grains of sand rolling down the proverbial hillside. One political party was all but wiped out of local affairs and the seats they previously held fell reasonably evenly to the two main political parties dependent on a particular area. Overall the local political map was neither painted with large new areas or Blue, Red or Orange, but with few exceptions on either side, the political map remained more-or-less as it had been prior to the election.

Political analysts are busy beavering away with their charts, swingometers, statistics and graphs trying to make sense of what happened and what this means to the future fortunes f the political parties and their leaders.

One thing I find the political analysts tend to overlook is the mood of the electorate as a whole, which is more likely to make more sense of yesterdays voting trends than anything else. Something I have sensed for a long time is a complete lack of trust in any political party. Many voters now have a feeling they have been completely disenfranchised by parties that seem to have long ago forgotten who they represent other than themselves. If that is correct, then no political party can in future rely on any form of support from traditional supporters, as dependent on any given local area, the vast numbers of voters who feel they have become disenfranchised will no longer vote for a given party, but are more likely to vote for what it sees as the best of a bad bunch at the time.

All political parties are very inventive in their dialogue and the popular flavour of the month, particularly after an election, is talk of ‘re-engaging’ with the electorate. These are however just words, words the electorate are becoming weary of and it is likely that political futures will now be made or broken depending on which way the wind is blowing at the time. One thing the electorate do know is they voted by a majority for Brexit in a referendum, and all they have seen is politicians constantly trying to undermine the majority decision. It is unlikely a future wind will blow favourably on such politicians and more than likely our second chamber,  the unelected House of Lords will face calls for its abolition after they decided by a large majority to attempt to impose what is effectively a Brexit wrecking measure.

Alternative Voting System


 

Do you believe in Universal Suffrage, the principle of one man, one vote? To anyone living in a democratic country this principle is not only something to be treasured it is also something that many have given their lives striving to attain. However in the United Kingdom, attempts are now underway to dramatically distort even this long cherished right. The present voting system in the UK is quite beautiful in its simplicity and understanding. Often known as the first-past-the-post system it means that whichever candidate attains the most votes from the electorate is the person to be elected.

Although this seems a pretty fair and just voting system, there are political parties that either never get elected or achieve too few candidates to ever hope forming a national government. I suspect most people would reason that more voters preferred the policies of the winning candidate than those of the losing candidates. However after years in the national government political wilderness, the party that always comes third  in national elections  is proposing through smoke and mirror arguments to introduce a voting system to ensure that the correct political candidates are elected. Somehow the last paragraph conjures up thoughts of George Orwell’s nightmare visions.

Now that it cleared the parliamentary process, a referendum is to be held in May 2011 to decide if people would prefer a new voting system under the grandiose title of Alternative Voting. Under this system, voters will be required to number all candidates in order of their personal preference. It is not yet clear whether it will be mandatory to list candidates in a preferential order or risk having ones vote disqualified. Any candidate not securing at least 51% of the electorates votes even though they may have secured the majority of votes will have their name thrown back into the ring and the candidate who was at the bottom of the preferential list will be removed. As I understand it, the votes of the removed candidate will be added to the next lowest candidate on the list. This process will continue until one candidate attains more of these second, third, fourth votes etc than the remaining candidates. This is the person that will be elected. Does this seem confusing to you, it’s certainly confusing to me?

Although there are numbers of political parties in the UK, there are effectively three main parties and I will call them parties A, B and C in a thinly disguised attempt to avoid showing political bias.

To me the logic and consequences of this nonsensical system seem clear. There are people who will always vote for party A but never for party B. If the voter is required to cast a secondary vote the only other realistic alternative they have is Party C. Likewise there are people who will always vote for party B but never for party A. Again these voters will only have the effective alternative of casting a secondary vote for party C. If candidates representing parties A or B fail to secure 51% of the cast votes, then the secondary votes are counted. It will come as no surprise that candidate C who perhaps the majority of electors did not vote for has more secondary votes than anyone else and is therefore the person elected.

Has anyone guessed who Party C is yet?

If this system were applied to the Olympic games, there would be no guarantee that the winner of an event would be the person standing on the top step of the winners rostrum receiving a gold medal.

I find the current UK government to be a weak one as it is a coalition government with consequential internal opposing views on many subjects. I for one do not like weak governments. Each week the Government announces a plethora of new proposed policies only for them to be either drastically watered down, or abandoned the following week using insipid political arguments to justify their position. One thing that does not seem to figure highly in governmental policies is national defence with essential military equipment being taken out of service and military personnel being made redundant.  Expensive AWAK aircraft destroyed before they ever flew and aircraft carriers without aircraft but to mention a few. It makes one wonder if the Government has ever considered that the laws they make are only effective while they are in government and not some hostile aggressor being in charge instead. Perhaps they do and pray harder each night to get through the next 24 hours. Churchill must be turning in his grave.

No one would ever call me a fan of Margaret Thatcher but this would be because I disagreed with her policies rather than anything on a personal level. As a leader of the government and her political party I can only admire her dogged determination. The majority of the electorate clearly recognised this dogged determination appealed to them too and not only voted her party into power once, but also again in the following election. To me this indicates one of things the electorate seek is strong leadership irrespective of the political party.

Alternative voting is more likely to produce a string of coalition and consequentially weak governments. I do hope the electorate can see through all the spoof arguments and reject it in the forthcoming referendum.

 

Quote: Sir Winston Churchill 

 “AV allows democracy ‘to be determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates”

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